In 1882 Ernest Renan declared: a Nation is a soul, a spiritual principle. Two things, which, in truth, are really one, constitute this soul, this spiritual principle. One is in the past, the other in the present. One is the possession in common of a rich legacy of memories, the other is the present day consent, the desire to live together to have the glory of the past in common, a shared will in the present, to have done great deeds together, and want to do more of them, are the essential conditions for the constitution of a people. To be not only a Nation, but a real Nation State, people must possess a permanent population, defined territory, government and capacity to enter into relations with other states. The lives of Western Europeans have been molded by this concept of Nation State for almost two hundred years. The French constitution of 26th August 1789 declared in its third article Le principe de toute souveraineté réside essentiellement dans la Nation (the principle of sovereignty essentially lies in Nation).
[...] The most powerful institutions are composed by representatives of member states whose aim is sometimes to defend their own households old European Nation States - rather than an ideal European family. If the parliament is elected directly since 1979, and could constitute the symbol of a real supranational organization, its powers are still so limited compared to the ones of the other institutions, that it is often given the nickname of “Cinderella”. For instance, the Parliament does not have a real possibility of initiating legislations, and shares all its competences with the powerful Commission. [...]
[...] That is to say that, even if a country has objectively a very important economic or political weight, it may not be able to take part in this powerful institution and its process of decision- making. Moreover, European integration has not only diminished States' competences, it has also tried to create a European consciousness, this “soul and spiritual principle” defined by Renan as the condition for forming a Nation. Maastricht treaty created a European citizenship over and above national citizenship by making every citizen who is a national of a member State becoming a citizen of the union. This seems to be really threatening for the traditional Nation State. [...]
[...] European integration has continuously rescued Nation states and made them more prosperous European integration has replied to the reality of declining post war Nation states, threatened by a profound crisis, by giving them a new hope. In 1945, Germany was devastated as well as France. Lots of cities had been entirely destroyed such as Dresde or Le Havre, and the economic weight of Western European countries was decreasing compared to USA's or Soviet union's ones. European integration has given western European countries a new ambition, and new tools to recover their dynamism. [...]
[...] European Union represents an attractive and dynamic zone, which can help States to face the challenge of globalization and stay competitive. We could have affirmed naively, like many euro skeptics that a strong antithesis between European integration and Nation States exists. However, in reality, even if the process of integration implies some concessions, European integration has helped to save European Nation States rather than destroyed them. First of all, European institutions give States another scene on which they can be represented and gain recognition. [...]
[...] EU has helped and still helps its members to keep or increase their economic weight in a world where European countries are no longer the only economic actors and have to face an important concurrence. This finally leads us to think that, as Nation states have proved their limits to satisfy by their own powers and within their own frontiers the demands of their citizens, European integration is not here to achieve their destruction, but, on the contrary, really rescues them. [...]
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